“Scottish Government ‘cooking books’ over care home vaccinations” – pro-Unionist twitter storm, February 8.


As of February, the Scottish Government has succeeded in providing a first dose of Covid vaccine to 99.8 per cent of elderly care home residents. No amount of statistical quibbling can alter that outcome.


In the second week of February, the Scottish Government reported that over one million people had been vaccinated against Covid-19, closing the relevant vaccination rate with England. However, the Scottish Government also reported that it had been successful in effectively inoculating all elderly care home residents, which had been its priority and the reason the vaccination roll-out had followed a different course north of the Border.

As a result, the mortality rate among elderly care home residents was falling sharply (at nearly ten times faster than general population). Care home deaths in the week beginning February 1 were 68 compared to 116 in week beginning January 4 (i.e. down 41 per cent).

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However, Unionist circles (including anonymous twitter and blog accounts) have criticised the reality of these numbers, suggesting they are manufactured, deliberately misleading, or based on poor statistical presentation. In particular, the high vaccination rate for the over-80s claimed by the FM has been impugned.


The First Minister now claims that 99.6 per cent of elderly residents in care homes have been vaccinated against Covid-19 (as at 8 February). She said this is a “scale of uptake that none of us believed would be possible, and it is really important because that is giving protection to the group that we know is most at risk”.

The 99.6 per cent figure is calculated by taking 29,865 recorded vaccinations as a proportion of the total elderly (+80) care home population. The latter is of course a fluctuating figure for various reasons: people entering and leaving care homes, and deaths both from the coronavirus and other causes. The Scottish Government appears to use an average figure of 30,000 elderly care home residents. This estimate comes from self-reported data from care homes, using the TURAS Care Home Safety Tool, a software package developed by the Care Inspectorate, Scottish Care and NHS Education Scotland.

It is reasonable to point out that as this data is self-reported it could be in error. However, there is no evidence to suggest that such reporting errors are large, and they will, in any case, be evened out over time. It is also the case that the 30,000 average compares favourably with the more exact figure of 32,445 given by a census of all care home residents (i.e. includes younger residents) in 2019. Indeed, we might expect the average of +80 residents now to be less than the 2019 figure given the mortality level caused by the pandemic.

Conclusion: the care home residency rate used in compiling the vaccination rate is as robust as it can be and is certainly not the result of any statistical manipulation.

The National:


Some commentators have pointed to a seeming quirk in the published figures for the total vaccination rate in care homes. Table 10b (labelled “Daily Covid-19 Vaccinations in Scotland by JCVI Priority Group” in the Scottish Government online data tables) lists the running total number vaccinated in care homes. As of 10 February, this stood at 29,954. This is then given as 99.8 per cent of elderly residents or 94 per cent of all care home residents.

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The ostensible issue here is that if the number registered as vaccinated represents all care home residents (which the table implies) then you cannot use it to measure the percentage of those over-80 who have been vaccinated. To do so will artificially inflate the vaccination rate among the more elderly residents. The percentage vaccination rate for all residents at 10 February is 29,954 out of a 32,000 total, or 94 per cent. Only if you apply the 29,954 to the smaller number of over-80 residents do you get the vaccination figure of 99.8 per cent.

The data can be reconciled if we assume that the priority for vaccinations has been those aged over-80 and that in fact most of the 29,954 who have had a jab are in fact over 80 years of age. A look at the adjacent table for the vaccination of care workers in homes dedicated to the very elderly shows these numbers are far higher (at 90 per cent) than the average rate for all residential care workers (78 per cent). This is suggestive that the vaccination emphasis is indeed in care homes for the very elderly. Some of the 29,954 vaccinations in care homes might include those aged below 80 but not enough to significantly alter the total for the over-80s.

Conclusion: the figure of 99.8 per cent of elderly care home residents vaccinated is reasonably robust.

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The speed and success of the Scottish Government programme to immunise the key elderly target group suffering from Covid-19 has been vindicated. And with it the decision to roll-out the vaccination programme in an orderly fashion rather than go for cheap headlines.


The National: National Fact Check False 

Misleading. As Mark Twain said: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics."